It's been almost two weeks since the grossly overweight and possibly abused kitty, Chloe, was removed from her home and placed under the care of Animals in Distress. For now, Chloe is staying with my friend, Katherine, who oversees intake of all the cats in the AID program and is a very savvy foster mom.
Chloe has had a peaceful few weeks and after only one incident I reported initially, Chloe has not lashed out at Katherine. In fact, Chloe is showing signs of relaxing and learning to trust again.
©2013 Katherine Reid. Hopefully this is one of the last photo you'll see of Chloe's back mats! Katherine is starting to remove them.
The first few days were the toughest. Chloe would not move, urinated and defecated on herself and barely ate. Katherine tried to clean her off, but was met with so much resistance that we all decided it was best to leave her alone. Katherine focused on offering Chloe a variety of grain-free dry food as her first attempt to get Chloe moving in the right direction.
Chloe took to one of the brands and began to eat. Katherine also offered Chloe some plain chicken baby food from a spoon, which encouraged Chloe to both regard Katherine in a positive way and to help Chloe want to interact, instead of withdraw.
Katherine had to move slowly and not do too much. It was easy to upset Chloe, so she did less, instead of overload her. With the guidance of our friend Wendy Christensen, cat behaviorist and author, she kept the pace to baby steps only.
©2013 Katherine Reid. Is that a smile I see?
Chloe began using her litter pan and eating more than a mouthful of food. With such an obese cat, we have to be careful NOT to restrict her food intake as much as IMPROVE her food, for now. Once she is stable, she will no longer be free-fed and will begin the process of eating grain-free canned food, in monitored amounts, until she can lose some weight.
Chloe also may have bad teeth and an ear infection-both issues will be dealt with as soon as we feel Chloe can be handled without it putting her into a panic. We're hoping that at least the ear issues may resolve, to some degree, with better food. Her body may be reacting to the grain in the food by making her ears get a build up of material. It's unlikely she has ear mites, but she WILL get the treatment as soon as it's safe to do so.
©2013 Katherine Reid. Chloe's sweetness may be starting to emerge-and what a cute face she has!
This morning I got a note from Katherine that she had another small breakthrough. Last night she was able to brush Chloe's face, which she liked, and while she was brushing Chloe, Katherine managed to pick out a few of the mats on the cat's back (which she pulled out easily without causing any irritation to Chloe). As you can see in the photos, Chloe looks like she's almost smiling and for that, we are all very pleased and hopeful that Chloe's story will continue to be one filled with promise. I know we're all rooting for this kitty to make it through this difficult time.
Animals in Distress is a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization. If you'd like to make a donation to help with Chloe's long-term care, you can use this LINK to their PayPal account. Thank you!
©2013 Katherine Reid. Lucy, safe in her new foster home.
UPDATE: Shortly after Chloe was returned from the home, the former guardian called saying that Lucy HAD to go, too. Lucy has been placed with AID and is doing well. I've met this cat and she's VERY friendly and gets on well with other cats, too. If you live in CONNECTICUT and would like to know more about Lucy, please visit her PETFINDER PAGE!.
It is with great sadness and reluctance that I announce, effective today, that my non-profit rescue, Kitten Associates, will be closing its doors for good. With adoptions and donations at all time lows and volunteers difficult, if not impossible to find, I feel that my time would be better suited letting others do this good work of saving cats since I have been a complete failure at doing so.
What IS Pebble Associates all about?
Simply put, we rescue rocks from cruel living situations where they might otherwise be ground up and used as decoration in expensive landscaping or to provide a surface for a driveway, which, in turn, would abandon them to be repeatedly run over day after day. That's something we find intolerable!
Rock rescue, before today, was simply unheard of and it's high time something was done about it. Consider this-how many rocks do you see each day as you travel to work? Or do you see them causally dumped in piles by cruel-handed gardeners in your neighbor's yard? How many of these rocks ever hope to get proper care and consideration, while eeking out an existence?
We've developed a list of important tenents that guide me to my new purpose in life.
1. No rock should be subjected to EROSION-especially by water and wind. ALL ROCKS SHOULD BE INDOOR-ONLY.
2. Rocks should never be spade, shoveled or otherwise disturbed once they are placed in the home.
3. Rocks should have regular care, which includes keeping them clean, but not exposed to harsh abrasives, given no food of any kind, not even a treat, and always kept at a comfortable temperature to prevent fissures or cracks from occurring.
©2008 Robin A.F. Olson. Granite being judged at a Gem & Mineral Show-how disgusting! That rock should not have been used for such greedy and malicious purposes.
4. We suggest that rocks be adopted in, at least, pairs, unless they are boulder-sized, particularly when it comes to pebbles as they do much better in groups or cozy piles.
5. Cruelty to rocks will NEVER be TOLERATED-and we're talking about using Rock Tumblers, Jackhammers, Chisels, or Diamond-tooth Saws on them!
6. Rocks should come from Rock Groups or Rock Shelters, NOT from a fancy-pants Gem & Mineral Show. There's already too many rocks on the planet and we need to act now to keep the problem from turning into an avalanche.
I hope you'll support my new dream with your donation to Pebbles Associates. It's good-hearted folks like you that help me, help them.
On December 14, 2012, after my town's heart was broken, I sat on the sofa watching the news in tears. I couldn't just sit there and do nothing. I didn't have much to offer, except a house full of cats and foster cats. I realized not everyone knows what it's like to be in the company of so many cats at one time and perhaps there was something about the wonder of living with cats that I could share with others. I knew we couldn't take the cats out into the public because that would be a hot mess. I left that job to the therapy dogs.
I worried about opening up our home to the residents of our town. Could they spend time with our cats without it turning into a big liability? What if someone was bitten or scratched? Would I lose the house if someone got hurt? How could I protect my cats and our visitors or was this just a stupid idea? I thought about it for a few minutes, realizing I had to take the chance. I needed to help my neighbors. It was worth the risk. That night Kitties for Kids was born.
I've written more about our program (you can see the post HERE).
The invitation to the 2013 CVMA Awards.
When I was first contacted about this award I thought it was a joke. I called my vet and Dr. Larry said he'd been part of CVMA for years and that CVMA has been around since 1884 and was a very distinguished organization. Wow.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. I was a bit sad that no one jumped into the fountain at the Awards Banquet, but there's always next year.
On Tuesday, March 26th, Sam and I drove to Hartford, CT to the Wadsworth Atheneum to attend the Awards Banquet. Now any of you who have read this blog before, know that I've been the President & Founder of Kitten Associates, Inc. for almost three years. To be in a room FULL OF VETERINARIANS was a DREAM COME TRUE! I felt like a kid in a candy store! I wanted to run up to every Vet and make friends with each one. The heck with the award, I need to find more vets to work with (at a discount, of course!).
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Yes, the cauliflower is naturally purple!
Part of me worried that if I found a cute single Vet I might be tempted to leave Sam behind and run off, but the thrill of the evening and the upcoming award forced me to (sort of) temper my enthusiasm.
The Wadsworth is a gorgeous Gothic Revival styled Art Museum. We couldn't explore the galleries, but were kept to a large courtyard with a lovely fountain in the center of it. We hadn't taken more than a few steps into the room, when we were greeted by Dr. Chris, the former President of CVMA. He warmly welcomed us and thanked us for being such an inspiration to others. Who us? What? I couldn't believe it.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. This is Addie the Comfort Dog. She is clearly excited about winning her big green ribbon.
Dr. Chris is an emergency room Vet. He likes the thrill of not knowing what's coming in the door next and works and sleeps at the hospital for four days in a row, then takes a few days off to be with his wife, two kids and their menagerie of animals he's taken from owners who could no longer provide care for their animals. This guy has a heart of GOLD and it was very clear he had a passion for caring for animals.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Senator Blumenthal gives his acceptance speech.
We also met with TD Bank sponsors, who were also gracious and friendly. They were chatting with our co-recipients from the Golden Retrievers of Lutheran Church Charities who had brought their dog, Addie with them. We sat down and chatted about, what else, dogs and cats. It was a pleasant start to the evening.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The cover of our Certficate from Senator Blumenthal.
I was stunned and thrilled. A certificate from our own Senator meant the world to me. This accolade was from our STATE, where I've lived most of my life. This sort of recognition was something I could have only dreamed of and here it was about to happen.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. My pride and joy.
A few moments later, Senator Blumenthal entered the room. He gracefully made his way around the room, shaking hands and taking photos with people. I knew we would get to meet him so I tried to ready myself for the moment. He shook my hand and thanked us for our service to the people of Newtown. I quickly said a few fumbling words and before he could leave I gave him my card and I asked for a photo. I kept thinking, this man has been to the White House. He knows the President of the United States. Wow.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Proof! Senator Richard Blumenthal and Robin A.F. Olson (me!).
Dr. Chris made the opening remarks and introduced Senator Blumenthal. The Senator gave a very moving, well articulated and heartfelt speech. He had no notes. I thought about how many speeches he must have given over the years and that it was probably second nature to him. I was glad I didn't have to give a speech that night because I doubted I could do as good a job-even with notes.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. A close up-I'm so honored!
Dr. Chris returned to the podium and began to talk about Kitten Associates and our Kitties for Kids program. I'd sent CVMA information about us and thought I'd hear back what I'd written, but Chris had his own special commendation for us. Hearing it made me blush with joy. I couldn't get over that this was our moment in the spotlight. All we had to do was get up, walk across the room and accept our plaque and certificate.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Our CVMA Pet of the Year Award.
BUT I WAS WRONG!
Chris handed me the awards and he whispered to me to go ahead and say a few words. WHAT?! Make a speech? NOW?!
I was buzzing from all the adrenaline coursing through my veins. The rest of the ceremony flew by and no sooner than it was over, the Vet of the Year, Dr. Eva Ceranowicz of Bloomfield Animal Hospital, came over to introduce herself to us. Again, I was floored to get this sort of recognition when I was planning to introduce myself to her.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. We did it!
She was delightful and charming. We had a quick, intense conversation, then she was off to talk to more guests and we followed suit.
I got to talk shop with a few Vets who were clearly amused by my knowledge of all things de-wormer related. I tried to make quick BFFs for future reference, but most of the Vets I spoke with had their Practice too far away from Newtown.
The evening was winding down and just as Sam and I were going to leave a gentleman introduced himself to us. He said his name was Gordon and turns out he's the Executive Director of the Connecticut Humane Society! As if talking with a room full of Veterinarians and meeting Senator Blumenthal wasn't enough, here was someone I admired from the rescue side of things and he's a GUY. A GUY WHO DOES RESCUE…(who is also adorable, but I didn't say that to his face). Wow again!
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Wendy and Sam really had fun taking part in our Kitties for Kids program (with Barney in the background).
We had a lively conversation and I hoped we would be in touch. He was glad to work with us and vice versa (in our small capacity). Of everything that happened that night, this was definitely a highlight. We shook hands (he has a nice, warm, strong handshake) and said goodnight. I walked out into the cold night air, floating on cloud nine.
And now if you'll excuse me, I have another family coming to visit our kitties and I need to get the room ready!
Make sure you LIKE the CVMA Facebook page. It's embarrassing that they only have 141 likes!
Also, make sure you visit the Connecticut Humane Society FB page and say hello from Robin, but don't tell them I have a crush on their boss.
Who knew the need to vent my frustrations, living with an ever-changing number of cats, would lead to all of this?
It began with this post.
©2006 Robin A.F. Olson. Here's my cat, Cricket (center) flanked by his brother, Boo-Boo and sister, Sophie. Back then, Boo-Boo was one of the inspirations to starting my blog (because he was so annoying!)Boo and Sophie were later adopted together.
For those of you interested in the origins of Covered in Cat Hair, you should know that this blog was meant to be a book project entitled: Covered in Cat Hair: the Mostly True Stories of a Life Spent with Cats. James Frey had just been busted for lying about his tome: A Million Little Pieces and I figured I had to add the “mostly true” part just in case I goofed up on some facts.
©2006 Robin A.F. Olson. A few months after Covered in Cat Hair began, I inherited my Mother's cat, Bob Dole, after she passed away. My Mother never read my blog or any of my work, saying she would wait for it to be published, first.
In the meantime, I began writing my book, not really focusing too much on blog-length posts. I wrote about 90,000 words (yes, that's a lot, but not quite enough for a book). Each chapter is a short story. Some of the stories are poignant and some flights of foolish fancy. I was determined to finish my book, but I realized no one would want to read such long posts online so I had to change course on my blog.
I was fostering for a rescue group and thought I'd write about the cats in my care. There were many stories to share, but my “boss,” the Director of the group, did NOT like me writing about her or anything else we were up to. I also couldn't post photos with my stories, which frustrated me endlessly. I grew up with a camera in my hand and telling stories and sharing photos is natural to me.
©2009 Robin A.F. Olson. Blueberry and her brother, Blackberry were rescued from South Carolina.
So what did I do?
I kept writing. I used aliases. I waited for technology to get to the point where I could share photos and I began to write posts to help other people with their cats, as well as to continue telling stories about my foster cats.
©2008 Robin A.F. Olson. Two of the Pi Day babies, Happy and Jelly Belly.
©2010 Robin A.F. Olson & A. Merritt. The Halloween Express-four kittens in a kill shelter in Georgia didn't have a chance. We rescued them, did quarantine, and placed them in a month-ALL TOGETHER with ONE FAMILY! You can see how well they're doing, laying crammed next to their Mom's lap in this recent photo.
I imagined all those cats, many of them newborns and kittens, dead in a pile waiting to be…who knows…taken to the dump? Incinerated? Used in pet food? (I'd heard that was true, but could never prove it).
©2006 Robin A.F. Olson. The now infamous, Huggy Mama, the first cat (and her two offspring, one pictured here) I rescued out of a kill shelter in 2009. She and her two boys were adopted TOGETHER.
I met with a great deal of opposition. It was difficult work, but I had an excellent team in Georgia offering to help me led by Maria and Bobby. It pushed all my boundaries. I was rescuing cats I never had a chance to meet before agreeing to rescue them. I had to hope they would be nice, adoptable cats who didn't have serious illness. I raised money for these rescues and was overwhelmed by how many people cared, to the point of being willing to send me $5 when that money was the WORLD to them.
©2009 Robin A.F. Olson. 1 in 7 million are the odds that this little calico named Gingerbread would be a male. He surprised us all.
I left the rescue I was with under great duress and with a great deal of anger for how I was treated. I opened Kitten Associates, scared out of my mind that I was taking on more than I could handle. I knew enough to get myself in trouble-and I did just that, but I kept writing, buoyed by the supportive emails and calls I got from so many of you.
©2006 Robin A.F. Olson. Poppy, about a week old.
Where Covered in Cat Hair has taken me, I could have never imagined. I've been honored with many awards and accolades. I've met wonderful people who share my passion to save cats, enrich their lives, to help their guardians cope with behavior problems and to feed cats a species appropriate diet. I cherish my cat-lady-babes, every one of them.
©2007 Robin A.F. Olson. Will & Grace.
©2009 Robin A.F. Olson. CallaLilly & daughter, Sunny.
The main foster room is quiet now. I don't hear the thudding, stomping, or occasional crashing sounds from above my office in the room where Coco, Latte, Willow, Barney and Fred lived. Three young cats still live there, waiting for their forever homes, but as of this afternoon, two have moved on.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The perpetually lovely, Coco.
I'm sad. I'm always sad to see them go. They were here far too long. These cats were in our program for almost a year-which astonishes me since we had them when they were kittens, but at that time, when they were most adoptable, many of them had health issues and we had to wait to place them.
I was also up to my ears here, having taken on a litter of all black (save for one) kittens who were taking far too long to adopt out, as well. It meant this group from Georgia had to wait even longer to arrive and once they did it seemed like either no one wanted them or one adopter after another fell through.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Ready to pounce.
I must have gotten 50 inquiries and many of the applications on Coco. Of course everyone would want her being a Flame Point Siamese mix. Who wouldn't want a cat with peach and china blue eyes and delicate orange points (a creamy coat with darker facial masks, ears, tails, paws, nose leather and paw pads. These darker areas are known as their points.).
Of the many applicants there were a very few good options. Some just lived too far away, in states with tough animal importation laws, and there were too many other things going on, too. I have no volunteers to help process applications and the task can be daunting for me.
I did one home visit, thinking I had Coco's home, but with all due respect, it was too cluttered and though the people were so very nice and lovely, I just couldn't place Coco there. Knowing she tends to be a bit “Princessy” I imagined her hiding under a bed for the rest of her life. I still feel badly about that, but I had to move on for her sake.
A local family stepped forward to adopt Coco and I thought this was FINALLY who I'd been looking for. They came to meet Coco a few times. They promised they were going to adopt her just as soon as another family member's cat returned to his home with his guardian (they were visiting). Two months went by and I got an email; "Sorry, our daughter didn't do some [no idea what] chore and she can't have the cat.”
What could I do? I moved on. Coco was 7 or 8 months old by now. Lucky for her she still had her looks even if she wasn't a sweet little kitten.
Sifting through more and more applications I finally hit a good one from a very nice lady and her husband. They live north of here and didn't currently have any cats or pets. I was worried that Coco would be sad, but I also was feeling like I had to get her a home and she would be treated so well that perhaps she would be happy being on her own? Her new mom didn't work full time so Coco wouldn't be alone a lot.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.
I did the home visit and it went very well so we made plans for the couple to meet Coco in a few days.
The next day, I got an email from the couple; “Family emergency. We have to fly out of town. Can you please hold Coco for us?”
“Oh no, not this again.” I thought.
I liked this family so I gave them a break and said to let me know when they got back from their trip, worrying that I would never hear from them again.
Though there was very sad news for the family, they wanted to move forward with the adoption and let me know when they returned, as promised.
But now Coco was sick! She had a slight fever and wasn't eating. She wasn't running after her toys so I took her to the Vet. They gave her SubQ fluids and sent her home. Hopefully whatever it was would pass. Of course-perfect timing.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The goofy twosome.
I almost lost the adoption again when I had to tell the family Coco was sick. There was some confusion, but in the end it worked out. They waited a few days and came to visit Coco when she was nearly well enough to be adopted. It had taken almost a month to get to this point. I was very hopeful this was going to be the one that would stick.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Those heart-stopping eyes.
During the visit, Faith, Coco's new mom, talked to me about adopting Coco as a sole cat. I was honest, but not pushy. I preferred Coco go with one of the others, but I would never try to manipulate someone to do that. I explained the benefit of having two cats who are already friends-watching them play, groom each other, sleep together. She'd know they'd keep each other company when no one else was home. Since the house was large and there were no other pets, why not, if the family could afford a second cat.
Right away Faith started looking around the room. Her eyes fell on Latte who was rolling around on the floor getting litter dust on her fur.
“I like that one. What do you think of her going with Coco?” Faith asked.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. I nicknamed Latte, La-La and she often came to me when I called her by that name.
There was some discussion back and forth about maybe Barney being a better choice. The husband wasn't a big fan of Latte's but I had a feeling she would win him over later. In truth, these were Faith's cats. He just had to nod and smile, which he did with resigned elegance, I must say.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Latte and Barney ready to pounce.
I encouraged them leave without taking ANY of the cats. I wanted them to think about it over night. I promised I'd bring the cats to them, whatever they decided. This is a big commitment to take on and it should not be rushed.
The next morning I got an email from them. I was afraid to read it, but once I did a big smile spread across my face. They wanted both girls and could I please come soon? They didn't want to wait any longer.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Raised together as sisters and will now be adopted together!
This afternoon I packed the girls up into cat carriers and also packed up some food, toys and two cat beds that were made for us by Mrs. Medaugh's Third Grade Class at St. Rose School in New Lexington, Ohio. I packed Latte's favorite Kong toy and I added a catnip banana to the mix since we had a few that were donated to us. The girls were silent the entire journey. I knew they'd be scared, but I knew they'd work past it. My job was to get them settled and say my farewells though I had a very heavy heart.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Latte and Willow had become very close with Latte turning to Willow as she would her own mother. I saw them grooming each other from time to time and I hoped that Latte would find the same affection from Coco one day.
Faith cheerfully met me at the door. She carried Coco into their new room while I took Latte. I suggested that we start the girls off in just one room, so they didn't run off and hide somewhere, never to be seen again. The room Faith chose is a lovely corner space on the main floor. There are french doors on one side, with windows all around. It's brightly lit, clean and warm. Faith set out a big cat bed-enoguh room for two, some cat scratchers, a tiny scratching post and some toys. We sat on the floor together as the girls explored, but mostly hid, in their new home.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The part of the story we're never sure we're going to reach when we first do a rescue. Tiny Coco was living outdoors in terrible conditions when we rescued her. You can read some of her backstory HERE.
I probably told Faith too many little things to make sure she did, so the introduction phase went well…things like not to go after the cats but let them come to her..not to move the litter pans too soon into the basement and to not move the girls out of the room until she saw them walking with their tails held high and were confident in their new space. It would take time for them to adjust, but going slowly would pay off later.
I'd already kissed each cat goodbye before I put them into their carriers and left for their new home. I only had a last glimpse of Latte's nose and tail pocking out from under a dresser and no sign of Coco at all. I knew they were under the dresser together, but I was sorry our final moments weren't a bit sweeter.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Latte and her brother, Tater Tot were terribly ill-especially Tater. Latte blossomed into a big, strong beauty. She and Coco were born on the same property to different mothers. It's possible they may share the same father. Some of her backstory is HERE.
To Coco, you are a true beauty and I'm so happy for you. To Latte, watching you blossom has been an honor; from terrified to a little gem of a warrior. You have a sparkling soul and I adore you. I hope you and Coco will know a lifetime of love. I've done my best to make sure you have the best chance at finding it. The rest is up to you.
I decided it was time to move foster kitties George, Bongo and Bunny-Boo Boo from Maria's house in Georgia to my house in Connecticut so we could get going on finding the cats forever homes. We rescued them FIVE MONTHS AGO and in that time I had hoped my other foster cats would have been adopted. With Kitten Season upon us, I have to crank things up a notch and hope we adopt out at least some of these foster cats before there are loads of kittens competing for adopters.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Meet George.
Most of the time I use a professional transport service to move our cats north. I really like PETS, LLC because they have been very trustworthy and prompt and their rates are reasonable. The only bad thing is the transports are usually filled with dogs. None of us love that the cats are with dogs, but the cat's discomfort only lasts for about a day's time (and they ARE in separate crates and some times even a separate walled off space from the dogs). The cats adjust and after they arrive here, within a very short amount of time, they are playing, eating and enjoying their new home.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. How many gorgeous cats are in this photo? Answer: All of them!
But…Maria didn't want to put these cats on the transport. I understood her reservations and certainly didn't blame her one bit. In five months of fostering, the close bond Maria had with the cats made it even harder for her to let them go on a truck full of dogs. Our only other option was to ask our friends Izzy and Mark if they were going on any road trips to Florida any time soon.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Keep that pretty face clean, George.
Izzy and Mark LOVE cats. If you've read my blog before, you know they will do anything to help any animal and their home in Pennsylvania reflects their passion. They've shared photos of their bed-it's covered with cats. I've seen a photo of Izzy on her sofa, working, flanked by the couple's two dogs, with cats at her feet. When Izzy and Mark go on a vacation, the always offer to bring rescue cats back north with them and many rescues are very grateful for their generosity.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Helloooooo Bongo!
Though they had no plans to travel, Izzy and Mark offered to drive down to Georgia, then drive back to PA and meet us with the cats! Yes, that's something crazy people do (lucky for us)! Before I knew it, in the space of a day, a plan was hatched. Izzy and Mark would leave Wednesday morning and drive to just north of Maria's in Georgia. They would get a good night's sleep, then pick the cats up very early on Thursday. By Thursday night (last night) they'd get the cats to the Perkins near the state line of NY and PA where we would meet them and take the cats the rest of the way home.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bongo is the spitting image of our former foster kitty, Charly!
Tuesday night, Coco fell ill. She had a fever and wasn't eating. I took her to see Dr. Mary the next morning. They ran some blood tests and re-ran her snap test to see if she had Feline Leukemia or FIV. Great.
Now what do I do? Do I tell Izzy and Mark to turn around and go home? What if Coco had something terrible? What if she was contagious? Sure, she wouldn't be in the same room as our new arrivals, but it's pretty much impossible for me to prevent transmitting disease as I go from one foster room to the next-even if I wash my hands and change clothes.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Portrait of cuteness.
If I cancel the trip, it will be TWO MORE weeks before the PETS transport runs and then we're in mid-March.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. LOOK AT THAT TAIL!
I spoke with Maria and we realized we needed to just do this transport. It would be better for the cats and after having nine deathly ill foster cats here two years ago, I figured with any luck, I would be able to manage what was yet to come. Ha ha ha. I think it's funny, too…funny or foolish.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. White Lion or domestic house cat?
I spoke with Dr. Mary the next morning. Coco's blood work indicated her white blood count was very high, which was her body's response to a virus or bacterial issue. She wanted to put her on antibiotics. Normally, I would just do that, but now I'm much more conservative about using antibiotics and more prone to allow the body to defend itself. Coco had begun to eat and perk back up after we'd given her subcutaneous fluids the day before. The blood test results were from the day before, too. Just because her white blood count was high then, did not mean it was STILL elevated now. I decided to let Coco heal on her own and, of course, if she showed ANY signs of feeling poorly I would get her on the medication right away. She was still negative for Feline Leukemia and FIV, too.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Goofhead.
Now I just had to get ready for the new arrivals so I got to work cleaning the foster room. After that I made myself a sandwich for lunch. I'm including this boring detail because not long after that I got SICK. Needless to say, driving 100 miles each way to pick up three cats at 9:00 PM in the middle of the boonies of mid-state New York is NOT something you want to do with a stomach ache and little, if any, access to a bathroom.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Poor Bunny. She'll feel better soon.
Izzy and Mark were running ahead of schedule AND the weather was about to take a turn from just cold to rain, sleet and snow mixed together. There was no way to back out of the pickup trip. I decided to take a nap and see if that would help any. Sam took a nap, too, since he was really tired and we were both going to do the run together (and hopefully not both GET the RUNS together since I made HIM a sandwich, too).
When I got up I felt just as awful as before, but now I also felt really groggy. I woke Sam up and had a difficult conversation with him. He had to do the run on his own. I just couldn't do it. I'd print out the directions, get him everyone's phone number and stay up in case he needed me for anything while on the road. I felt so terrible asking him to go alone, but he took it with a grain of salt while I stewed in my guilt.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh so delicate.
As it turns out, the trip was a quick one. Izzy and Mark were very tired and just wanted to get the cats to Sam and head home. They had been on the road for nearly fourteen hours by that point and still had three and a half more to go. Sam texted me saying he was turning right back around and would be home soon. By 11pm Sam called saying he was down the street. I thought; “Here goes nothing.” Then started praying this wasn't the stupidest idea I've ever had.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bongo wants to start the day with a belly rub.
We got the cats into the foster room. I had my first look at each one. George was calm, cool and collected. He let me hold him right away. I took one look at him and knew I was in trouble, suddenly realizing that to avoid “foster fail” I should rescue cats I'm NOT going to LIKE, yet here in my arms was my dear cat, Spencer's little twin brother. George has the same mostly white Norwegian Forest Cat body, the crazy spots of tabby, the biggest, fluffiest tail I have EVER SEEN, a plush coat and ruff AND he's a NICE CAT to boot.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. The CRAZIEST tail I have ever seen!
Bongo hid behind the litter pan. Poor Bunny didn't even come out of the cat carrier. I knew to keep the room dark and quiet. I put out some food and left them to rest from their long trip. I set up an electric blanket for them in case they wanted to snuggle and I whispered goodnight to them and headed to bed…but first another trip to the bathroom. Ugh.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Oh Bunny, it's going to be OKAY!
This morning George and Bongo came over to say hello. I saw Bongo's nerve-damaged leg curled tightly against his body as he walked towards me. He walks with a wobble, but he doesn't let that stop him. He came over and laid down on the floor next to me. He rolled over and showed me his belly. He got up and laid against my lap and purred deeply. Oh crap, another cat to fall in love with!
Bunny is still scared, but I know she'll come around. It hasn't even been 24-hours yet and we all need time to get used to all the changes.
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Doomed. I'm doomed!
Digging out from the mental detritus of the past month has been tougher than I imagined. Last week, to be honest, I was suicidal. Not only was I at an all time low, feeling depressed and upset about the shooting, but the annoying run on “truthers” with their garbage being spread around the net really got to me. Adding to that sour mix was relentless anxiety about my seemingly never-ending financial failings—am I going to lose my home? How am I going to get through this year?
I couldn't focus on anything for more than a minute and I didn't want to work. I couldn't get up the energy to write. I wanted to sleep or watch movies to numb my pain between long crying jags.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson. Snow shadows.
This is not written to be dramatic or to get sympathy, it’s to share an experience, to dissect these feelings hoping to make sense of them, and possibly to help someone else if they’re feeling the same way.
Last week I gave up. For years I’ve struggled to get Kitten Associates off the ground and to find a way to do that AND write my precious blog AND somehow make a living. I’m very good at two out of the three, but where I fail is in making a living. I beat myself up about what I “should” do, which stops me from doing everything else. I try to give myself space to just do what I feel is best for me even if that means eating a lot of spaghetti and losing sleep over not being able to pay every bill on time. In my heart I feel close to being able to make a change for the better. I still have hopes of reaching my goal of better providing for myself through writing.
The post I wrote about the “truthers” pushed me into a very bad place and I also believe that the shooting affected me more deeply than I first thought.
©2011 Robin A.F. Olson.
I will forever be from Sandy Hook where “that terrible tragedy took place.” I still see signs posted up in our town and neighboring towns wishing us love and support, but seeing them makes me cry. I can’t even afford to leave, whether it be for a weekend or for the rest of my life. I recognize there is little joy and only more sadness ahead, more creditors getting angry, more worries about how to keep things going without my home collapsing on my head from disrepair.
Perhaps I need to give up completely? I did little last week. I stayed away from my computer; did the least amount possible on Facebook. I stayed in the foster room with the kittens and either slept or watched terrible movies on Netflix. Sam stopped talking to me and I stopped talking to him. We both have problems, both at the same time. I need support from him that I don’t get and I’m guessing he felt the same way about not getting support from me.
©2006 Robin A.F. Olson. The last trip to Bulls Bridge with my Mother.
I missed my parents so badly that it made me sink deeper. If only I had one person I could go to, one person who really knew me, who could hold me for a while; tell me it’s going to be okay. One person who would make me a cup of tea, just as my mother often did, and who would let me talk about my worries and who would find a way to soothe my soul.
But I’m a big girl now and my parents are dead and other than Sam there’s no one close by I have that connection with and certainly no family any more. This is not a pity party. I’m just trying to sort things out as I always do.
In the worst moments I thought about what if I wasn’t here any more. Would it matter? I suppose only to me. I’d like to think I left a worthwhile legacy, but mostly I feel like a loser. I ask myself why I didn’t do the things I dreamed of-like to go Italy or get any of my book projects finally finished. Then I realize all this struggling and feeling bad doesn’t get me anywhere closer to any of those things. It leaves me feeling inert.
©1964 Judith Feminella. A somber moment or was depression already part of who I was?
The only thing that helped me begin turn this around was on Saturday when a mom and her daughters came to visit the kittens. I didn’t want to see them and, in fact, I thought about canceling the visit. I couldn’t imagine how I would be friendly and smile when all I wanted to do was lay down and cry some more.
But I had to do this-at least my drive to be a “good girl” was still intact. I made a commitment. I needed to keep it.
It took most of the visit, but by the time the family was leaving I had the first smile on my face I’d had in a long time.
Not long after that I spoke with Gene Rosen on the phone. Considering this man has had threats, someone hacked into his phone, changed his outgoing message and re-directed all his calls; Gene was defiant. In fact he sounded quite chipper. He wasn’t going to let those jerks get him down. He changed his number. The police are keeping an eye on him and are ready to make sure he stays safe.
A group set up a special page for Gene on Facebook called Gene Rosen is a Hero and We Support Him. Some are calling him “America’s Grandpa!”
I can learn a lot from Gene. He can take lemons and make lemonade. He remembers all the hugs he gets, the pats on the back and he knows he has the support of the world and won’t let a small group of pestiferous twits ruin his day.
to be continued…
Suicide is a VERY serious matter. I've lost three family members to suicide. If you're struggling or want to help someone who is seriously depressed, here are a few links to help you speak with the right people who can help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255 (there are options for deaf and hard of hearing by visiting their web site.)
July was even more difficult on us than June. Maria had taken in two more kittens from her neighbor who were very sick. A buff tabby named Tater Tot was the most ill. The Vet told us it was the “wet” form of FIP which is fatal. His sister, Latte was struggling with a terrible upper respiratory infection. Maria took time off from work to care for the cats around the clock. Neither of us slept much. I researched alternative treatments, testing, anything I could think of while we expected that Tater wouldn't be with us for much longer.
©2012 Maria S. (inset). ©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Our amazing survivor-Tater Tot.
Because Maria is so good at what she does, she noticed that Tater had tapeworms. We ran more tests. His belly was big and round from the tapeworms, giardia and what was almost pneumonia. Once we started treatment he began to show improvement. It took a few weeks but we were very happy to take FIP off the table as we saw Tater eat on his own and gain weight.
King arrived in my home for a few days. He was quite the charmer, but he wasn't meant to be here for very long. Sam and I drove King to New Hampshire, to his new home where his mom, Judy was waiting to adopt him. I loved this home for him and this good woman and her sister. I never thought King had a chance and here he was 1400 miles from the palette factory in a safe, loving environment.
Two of my dear friends adopted Sabrina and Cutie Pie. Their mom, April, found a home in Brooklyn, NY and their sister Bon Bon was adopted in June.
We took on another pregnant mama named Winnie and got a new foster home here in CT. Donna and her husband, Paul are great foster parents. Winnie had five amazing kittens on 8.10.12 named Buttons, Bandit, Honeydew, Charly and Pinkie.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Mama, Winnie (inset) waiting to see Dr. Chris. Buttons flying high while Honeydew and sister, Bandit look on.
I took another fistful of Xanax and flew to Topeka, Kansas to tour the Hill's Global Pet Nutrition Center. I tiptoed through the “dark side,” but made some good friends and learned a lot more about pet food ingredients.
Something horrible happened to my cat Spencer. He stopped eating and hid. X-rays showed a strange mass in his sinus. I tried to prepare myself for the worst. It turned out to be a false alarm which added many more gray hairs to my head.
I was honored to be chosen as one of five members of the Animal Control Advisory Panel, overseeing the operations of our brand new town's Animal Control facility here in Newtown, CT. We had our first meeting and I was delighted to be nominated as Co-Chair of the committee.
Just as I was about to get inundated with kitties from Maria and Cyndie, I found a foster home for two of the remaining black kitties and the final one, Hello Dahlia, was adopted. We got the word that Miss Fluffy Pants found a GREAT forever home and Coco, Chichi, Choco, Tater Tot, Latte, Fred & Barney, and Willow arrived!
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. (inset) the DOOD resting in his cage while his mysterious back injury slowly healed and a few months later enjoying the new cat tree in my office.
Chichi and Choco got adopted right away into a great home.
One morning, the DOOD couldn't get up and walk and was in terrible pain, growling or crying if we touched him. We did x-rays that showed nothing and began talking about taking DOOD to a neurologist or starting him on steroids. It took six long weeks, most of it forced cage rest, before he was well enough to walk again without pain. I think he fell down the spiral staircase to get into the basement where we store food for our feral cat, but we'll never really know what happened.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Jackson getting oxygen before we raced him to the Emergency Vet and Intensive Care (inset). Jackson at home feeling better.
With Maria having space in her home open, we took on a kitty named Bongo who has nerve damage to his front leg. It had been a Hell of a month, but we kept on.
Opal went to a sanctuary and is doing well. She is becoming more friendly each day and she may one day be put up for adoption.
There was troubling news about King. He'd been struggling with chronic, severe and frankly bizarre ear infections. He had to have surgery, loads of daily cleanings, antibiotics. The other cats in the home weren't too sure about him. King faced losing his ears and his home, but his mom never gave up on him.
©2012 Maria S. Bunny Boo Boo (inset) with Bongo (left) and George (right)-who are all ready to be adopted! Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
I rescued a knockout silver tabby Maine coon mix named Nico from a kill shelter in Georgia because I knew I could find him a home and I wasn't going to let him die.
Maria found a kitten in a parking lot she named, Bunny Boo Boo that she rescued on her own and we took on another cat whose former mom was going to lose her home if the landlord found out she rescued a cat from the parking lot nearby. We named him George and he and Bongo and Bunny Boo Boo are great friends.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Hurricane Sandy, no power for almost a week-just a bad flashback to the year before when we got nailed at almost the same time by “Snowmageddon.”
Hurricane Sandy killed the power and made life HELL for a week making a mess of my home in Sandy Hook, CT.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. You are deeply missed, sweet girl.
Nico arrived and was adopted a few weeks later. The rest of Winnie's family found their forever homes. There were lots of inquiries about adopting kittens since the Holidays were approaching. Tater Tot, in a surprising twist, got adopted instead of Willow, who the family had come to meet. Willow, Fred & Barney and Latte were still with us waiting for their forever homes.
I got good news that King overcame his severe ear issues and was finally settling in with his new family. The other kitties were slowly accepting him and King was finding his place. His mom is the sort of adopter I always wish for-after a very rocky start, loads of vet bills and difficulties, she kept on. She never complained. She was completely devoted. My only hope is that her reward is enjoying the love of a very dear cat and hopefully a much easier future.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Our mascot of Covered in Cat Hair and my baby, Spencer before and after surgery.
Spencer had a very challenging dental cleaning where he lost two more teeth and surgery to remove a mass from one ear and another from inside the other. I prepared myself for bad news, but the shock came as the test results indicated it was an apocrin gland cyst with “no content”-meaning NO CANCER.
Sam and I cleared out the garage of recycling one bright sunny morning. After we were done we went to Panera Bread to have a late breakfast. While we were sitting there we saw police cars racing past. I knew something bad had happened and a few minutes later I heard the news of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, which you can read more about HERE and HERE.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. My home town will never be the same again. The school is a few miles from my home.
Wanting to reach out and help heal the broken hearts in our town, I created “Kitties for Kids” a kitten-therapy for the children, first responders and residents of Newtown, CT. We were featured on national television news and major news outlets online. We got loads of donations of plush toys and the first children and parents began to arrive to visit our kitties.
Although we had no Christmas and sent out no card (for the first time in my adult life), the joy of knowing I was helping people and the overwhelming honor of so many people reaching out to us was my gift.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. We will never forget and find a way to heal our hearts.
It's been quite a challenging and painful year. I realize that 2013 may be no easier. All I can do is hope that I'll be better able to handle what is yet to come and that for the cats out there who need me, that I'll have the resources to help them when the time comes.
[I wrote this post the night before the shooting rampage in Sandy Hook at our Elementary School and decided to share it now as a way to give us all a break from focusing on such sad news. Later today (I hope) I will be sharing some experiences I've had, living here during this madness, from being surrounded by Press to more about my determination to make things better here-again. Stay tuned.]
Molly sits alone in a small bathroom along with her litter pan, a plastic bowl filled with Meow Mix®, some water and a few old towels to rest upon. This is Molly's life now that her caretaker passed away. Molly, like so many other pets, lived with someone who hadn't made plans about what to do should they no long be able to provide a loving home. It's something any cat guardian would fear imagining, but what if it happened to you? Where would your cats go? What would happen to them?
Molly wasn't kicked out of her home to wander the streets. A family member, the granddaughter of Molly's caretaker, took Molly home with her. She was four months pregnant with her boyfriend deployed overseas. Her family thought Molly would keep her company while her boyfriend was away. Jessica knew she was mildly allergic to cats, but went ahead with the adoption.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. My first moments with Molly.
Within a short period of time, Jessica's allergies got worse so she tried to find Molly another home or a rescue to take her, but no one would help. She didn't want to be cruel to the cat, but she felt she had no choice other than to put Molly in the bathroom, where's she's been living for months.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Molly is suspicious of the lady who brought a cat carrier with her.
It's very difficult to place an adult cat who isn't a fancy breed. Molly is a pretty white and gray cat with subtle stripes in her tail, but she's not going to compete against Siamese or Maine Coon cats…or kittens…you know how it goes.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Before the meow-a-thon began.
Jessica put an ad on Craigslist which is a BIG NO-NO. Cats fall into harm's way via that publication and I believe they don't allow posting of animals on their site for that reason. We have folks who check CL every day to alert all the local rescue groups to intervene and hopefully help the cats listed there. That's how I came to rescue the DOOD.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. 16.8 pounds-in case you were wondering.
Molly was lucky that someone from Mary's Kitty Korner felt they could find Molly a new forever home, but their problem was getting Molly to their Vet to be boarded until a foster home opened up for her. I saw the email asking for help and I don't live too far from Jessica, though the total trip is about 150 miles. Even though I have too much going on, I had to help Molly, maybe because she reminds me of one of my cats, maybe because I just like to help.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Checking out the Vet's office.
This morning, I met Jessica and picked up Molly. I tried to be respectful, not sure if Jessica would cry over the reality of Molly leaving. I held Molly before placing her into the carrier and asked her if she wanted to say goodbye, but she didn't seem too perturbed that her cat was leaving for good (which is upsetting to me and maybe you, but this lady said she wasn't someone who had cats in the first place so I'm not going to vilify her…just gonna move on to the rescue pat of the story). She was very appreciative of the help and said she did want to visit Molly at the Shelter once she was settled. Whether it was the truth or lip service it didn't matter to me. Molly was safe and that's all I really cared about.
Then I started driving. Molly cried the ENTIRE trip, non-stop, every second or two. Some of her cries sounded like I was trying to murder her, while others sounded like she was gargling and meowing at the same time. She must have broken off most of her claws from trying to get out of the carrier, but thank GOD she didn't blow her bladder or worse.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson.
Once we arrived at New England Veterinary Center & Cancer Care (that's a mouthful!) Molly settled down. I brought her into an exam room and found out she weighs 16.8 pounds. I thought she was over 20.
The first morning after Spencer's surgery I went over to his crate and opened the door so he could stretch his legs. I hated having to confine him, but it's only for a few days. There's a pen attached to his crate once the door is open. It gives him more space, but keeps him from running around. He's supposed to rest. He's supposed to wear that damn “cone of shame.” He's supposed to be feeling awful for a few days.
I started placing the dishes out onto the counter. I count to myself the numbers 1 through 9. I have enough plates. Next is to get the raw food thawed so I go over to the refrigerator and pull out a package of food that Sam made up a few days ago. I hear a weird sound and turn. I don't see anything so I go back to what I was doing but something caught my eye. It was Spencer. He was sitting in his “spot” where he usually waits to be fed. He looked up at me and gave me the ever-familiar silent meow, letting me know he was hungry. The sound I heard must have been him jumping over the pen when just the night before there was no way he could manage.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. “This is your cat on drugs.”
It would be a good hour before the food was warm and Jackson, too, was fussing about wanting to eat. Who am I to say no to them after the last day we had?
I grabbed a few cans of one of their favorite canned grain-free foods and scooped some out on a dish. I hid Spencer's antibiotics and Jackson's pile of pills into the food after I'd coated them in my favorite stuff-Flavor Doh. It really works to hide pills! I put the food down and within two seconds, pills and all, it was gone. Spencer ate normally for the first time in MONTHS. He'd been chewing out of once side of his mouth, a telltale sign of some sort of dental problem. Here he was, like nothing ever happened. Meanwhile, Jackson was chowing down, wanting more. I couldn't be happier.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Purple-buprenex-haze.
Later that morning, as I sat at my desk, Spencer ran over and jumped into his favorite cat bed which is at table top height and is right next to me. I was so glad to see him, even though he was supposed to be in his cage resting. He seemed very comfortable even though he was still on Buprenex and was a bit loopy. Blitzen and Nicky were also in my office fast asleep. I felt safe again with them here. I couldn't get over how dreadfully lost I felt without them less than 24 hours ago. We were a family again and everyone was basically okay.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Jackson, back to his old self.
I've said it many times before that my finances are in the shitter. Part of it was due to how much we spent trying to keep Bob Dole (my cat) alive, along with some other very costly Vet visits. I knew if Spencer had cancer I'd have a very very very hard time paying for his care. I would find a way, but when you're in a deep hole already, you don't have much energy or tools to dig deeper.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. My lovely floor.
Meanwhile Jackson was back to his old ways. He was LOUD, meowing the second we went to bed, then starting up again very early in the morning. He wants his pills/snack at 7:20AM. I do not need an alarm clock with him. He's almost spritzed cat urine in the bedroom but I watch him like a hawk and have stopped him a number of times. It's exhausting. I don't know what it would take to get him to stop doing it. There's competition for the bedroom and he rarely stays the night. He's probably trying to scent the place so he can take over. Meanwhile it's pee pee pads by the front of the bed to protect the rug and a lot more policing then I'd like to do.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Yummy goodness, but naughty boy.
Jackson is not deaf. He MAY be hearing impaired to some degree, but I'm not sure how severe it is. He CAN hear me, especially if I YELL at him to NOT PEE on the BED. As for more subtle sounds, he may have a problem. More testing needs to be done.
For now it's simply watch and wait—make sure everyone stays out of trouble, eats their food, takes their medicine. Spencer's been very good about not picking at his sutures and for that I continue to be happy.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Spencer with the only Friskies I allow in the house.
I also have one more thing to be HAPPY about.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Soulful Jackson.
I could barely speak and I had to hold back my tears as I thanked her profusely and hung up the phone. I ran to Sam to tell him, the tears falling freely, before I could get the words out, leaving him to think it was the worst before he realized it was the BEST NEWS EVER!
Not only was Spencer just fine and dandy, but the weight of worrying about how I would pay for his care lifted. What a great gift! It was completely unexpected and so very very sincerely appreciated. My boys were back home with me, just where they belong. I wanted to hold each one tight and never let them go.
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Me and my baby. It's going to be okay.
I may not have ever had human children, but I suddenly felt like I understood how the bond between a Mother and child-how it must feel to almost lose someone you love very much, then yank the back from the edge of the cliff at the very last second. It's been quite a week and this time we get a happy ending. I know it won't always be like this, but for now it's all good.